Conference abstracts

Eileen Agar
by Eileen Agar
NPG 5881

Thursday 24 - Friday 25 November 2005
Tickets £30/£25 concessions

SELF PORTRAITURE: Abstracts of Papers

Jerrold Siegel - Imagining the Modern Self
Historians and critics of the modern self, and of the ways it has been represented, often begin from a certain story about it, one that emphasizes the modern's self's signal and perhaps illusory stability, coherence, and autonomy. But this view about the modern self turns out to be one-sided at best, leaving out much that is both most characteristic and most interesting about modern accounts of the self. A different approach to understanding the history of thinking about the self can provide a more inclusive and reliable account, and a more pointed way to locate the originators of the currently-dominant story within it.

Angela Rosenthal - The Image of Angelica
Working in the artistic centres of Florence, Rome, and London, Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807) was one of the most renowned and internationally celebrated artists of the 18th century. Her fame was closely associated with her artistic persona, which she developed in a remarkable series of self-portraits. This paper explores some of Kauffman's most striking drawn, printed, and painted self-portraits. In these works, the artist crafted an image of herself - both "real" and allegorical - through which she sought to reconcile her public and professional visibility with contemporary notions of ideal, sensible, female decorum. They reveal Kauffman's ability, conscious or otherwise, to position her creative and created persona vis-à-vis shifting and diverse audiences, between the local and the global, and within an artistic culture of male privilege. At the center of the image of "Angelica" we shall find never a stable self, but always a mobile and artful one.

Martin Myrone - The Wild Swiss? Henry Fuseli and the Image of the Artist in the 1770s
Between 1770 and 1778 the Swiss-born painter Henry Fuseli was based in Italy, long the cosmopolitan centre of Europe's artistic community. These years saw a radical overhaul the idea of the artist, and of the social and moral purpose of art, establishing a distinctively 'modern' understanding of the creative individual. Fuseli gained a reputation as the painter at the cutting-edge of these changes; an eccentric, wild character who dared to explore the outer reaches of artistic invention, regardless of bourgeois conventions. This paper will explore the creation of Fuseli's distinctive professional identity in these years, focussing on the remarkable self-portrait drawings he executed in Rome. Emphasising the peculiarly rhetorical nature of Fuseli's artistic performances, it will set these images in the context of shifting ideals of artistic identity and the dymamic artistic culture of Rome.

Vivien Gaston - Self-Invention in Nineteenth-century France: Actors, Savages, Workers and Criminals
This paper will discuss how nineteenth-century self-portraits occupy a critical moment, poised between the confident self-knowledge of eighteenth-century self-portraits and the nervous fragmentation of identity characteristic of twentieth-century self-portraits. It will explore several of the models for identity pursued by artists that redefined the basis for self-invention beyond previous socially inscribed role-playing. Each proposed a radically expanded version of human experience: actor, savage, worker, criminal, as the basis for a dialogue with received cultural assumptions about the self. The paper will examine sources for interiority in Courbet's self-portraits and the role of the unconscious in expanding his artistic independence. It will interpret van Gogh's self-images as rejections of self-consciousness through visual identification with a fraternal community and an ideal of active work. For Gauguin, self-portrayal was inseparable from his own re-education, influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's pedagogical writings. He turned his self-making into a vision of cultural regeneration, inspired by Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and, above all, Rousseau's Émile. These self-portraits exemplify the evolution of ideas about artistic autonomy in the nineteenth century with a determination to fuse the artist's self-image with a transforming model for their life.

Tamar Garb - Self Portraiture and the New Woman
This paper looks at a number of self portraits produced by women in France towards the end of the nineteenth century in relation to the emergence of the catogory of the 'New Woman. Using the writings of the Symbolist writer Camille Mauclair, it explores the gendered conventions for portraiture in the nineteenth century and looks at the way in which women negotiated these while taking on board new ideas and ideals of femininity. Works by artists like Anna Bilinska, Marie Bashkirtseff and Rosa Bonheur will be central to the paper.

Giovanna Giusti - Self Portraits at the Uffizi Gallery: The Evolution of a Collection
This paper explores the origins and evolution of the Uffizi's unique collection of self portraits. It describes how cardinal Leopoldo de' Medici first gathered together artists' self portraits from the family's collections and commissioned new work from contemporary masters such as Guercino. Then, how other figures added to the collection and how it is still dynamically alive today, and continuing to acquire new items. The paper also discusses how the Self Portrait collection can be invaluable in contributing to research on attributions, by examining the work of Piazatta.

Perry Chapman - The Inner Rembrandt
Rembrandt's self portraits have been cast as teaching tools and marketing devices, as functionally outer directed. With 2006--the Rembrandt Year--almost upon us, it is time to reclaim the inner Rembrandt. Through his self-portraits Rembrandt developed and evolved a stylistic vocabulary for representing interiority. This paper examines Rembrandt's pictorial means for penetrating his own inward aspects against the background of seventeenth-century notions of individuality, self-scrutiny, and artistic engagement.

Marcia Pointon - The Materials and Modalities of Self-portraiture with some questions about Poussin
'Who could portray me better than I can myself? Unless, of course, someone knows me better than I know myself' Erasmus famously said in Praise of Folly. The question, which is left unanswered, lies at the core of self-portraiture, the most mysterious aspect of a genre which itself is enigmatic. 'Knowing myself' has meant, for a number of contemporary artists such as Mona Hatoum, Helen Chadwick and Mark Quinn, knowing the corporeal 'me'. In this intentionally speculative paper I want to try to explore whether the phenomenological knowledge of the body that drives the material as well as the conceptual strategies of these artists might provide opportunities for interrogating historic self-portraits. Is there identifiable, within the paradoxical procedures of projecting self as other, a hiatus within which the body of the artist makes itself known as corporeal self-knowledge?

Martin Hammer - The Self Stripped Bare: Naked Self Portraiture in the Modern Period
A description and exploration of the currency of naked self-portraiture in
the art of the last 100 years, from Egon Schiele to Jenny Saville. The paper discusses the attitudes and concerns that underlie this phenomenon?

Anthony Bond - Twentieth Century Performance Art Mapped on to the Renaissance
In Sydney the exhibition Self Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary will be augmented by a companion exhibition at the MCA which looks at other media in recent self portraiture and in particular the performative aspect of the genre. This paper does not attempt to prefigure that exhibition but rather to find common ground between this late twentieth century performance art and themes explored in Self Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary

Marsha Meskimmon - Media and Mediation: Self Portraiture and Contemporary Women Artists
In the wake of poststructuralist theory, it has become a commonplace to discuss the subject as 'de-centred' or 'dispersed' and to perform the self as multiple and mutable. This paper seeks to question those concepts in light of contemporary interventions into self-portraiture by women artists whose sophisticated use of materials suggest new ways of interrogating sexed subjectivity and mediated meaning.

David Dibosa - Self Persentation and Subjectivity in Post-War Black Visual Arts
This paper discusses self-portraiture generated by artists associated with the late twentieth-century British Black Arts Movement. Rasheed Araeen's work, How could one paint a self-portrait!, 1978-9, will be discussed alongside two other important works of the period: Sonia Boyce's, She ain't holding them up, She's holding on (Some English Rose), 1986, and Rotimi Fani-Kayode's Untitled, 1987-8. Through an exploration of the notion of apprehension, the paper will propose new ways of engaging with the problems of subject-formation raised by self-portraiture, particularly in respect of cultural difference. The relationship between self-portraiture, self-representation and self-definition will provide one of the key themes of the discussion.

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